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Empathetic

 

In 2007, I made a goal on this blog to listen to my kids and really pay attention to them. It was a good goal and a good year, and having that idea in the back of my mind really helped me grow in my mothering relationship, especially with Laylee. Magoo wasn’t saying much I could pay attention to at the time, anyway. Of course, now he says plenty.

In 2008, I didn’t really set a major parenting goal, and although I’ve made little course corrections along the way, I’ve missed having one driving focus.

So tonight I sat thinking about what I want to improve in my relationship with the kids. Honestly, I kept thinking, “I really need to work on paying attention again.” Why is it so hard to consistently listen to and honor our children? Are we really so busy? Is what we’re doing really so important that we refuse to give them our full attention when they ask for it? I’m sad to say that I often don’t give them the respect or attention they need, and I rarely have a justifiable reason for the neglect.

Sometimes when I’m doing something, no matter how inane or unimportant the task, I continue on like a freight train, annoyed by all the little interruptions my kids cause. It’s so hard to make myself stop what I’m doing to hear why Magoo’s Boba Fett Bad Guy made out of Legos is sad or how Laylee’s not sure which shade of pink to use for the skin tone on her drawing of Dan, when we’ve had that discussion one million times before.

So I was lying in bed with Magoo tonight trying to get him to sleep and I kept asking myself WHY, why do I struggle so hard with this? Why can’t I master the ability to listen and pay attention to my kids? I think it all boils down to empathy. Do I really feel empathy for them? Do I try to put myself in their place and allow myself to feel the need they’re displaying? I really don’t think I do. If I did, I’d probably know why Boba Fett Lego Bad Guy’s depression is so important and how hard a decision it is to choose a skin color for a pale white guy when there’s no pale white guy color in the Crayola pack.

So this year I’m shooting for empathy. I’m gonna try to find out what emotion is behind the requests they make of me and I’m gonna try to remember what it’s like to be a little person with little-to-no power in a big world where I feel like no one listens to me. Well, my mom listened to me. And even when she couldn’t or wouldn’t give me what I wanted, I knew she had listened to me and that she had tried to understand how I felt – and that was safety to me. Even though I didn’t have the power to fully control my own destiny, the one person who did was on my side and cared about how I felt.

I want to be that mom. Pick me. Pick me.

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